Historical Figures

Töregene Khatun, Regent of the Mongol Empire

Last updated:2022-07-25

Töregene Khatun is a Khatun (sovereign) of the Mongol Empire. She exercised the regency from the death of her husband in 1241 until the election of her eldest son five years later.


A member of the Naimans, Turkic-speaking Mongols from the south-west of the Mongolian plateau, Töregene was born in 1185. She seems to have been given in marriage to Qudu, a noble of the Turco-Mongolian tribe of the Merkits, until they were defeated. and incorporated into the Mongol Empire by Genghis Khan in 1204. The Khan then gave her in marriage to his third son, Ögedei, who already had a first wife.

Unlike Ögedei's first wife, Töregene gave birth to five sons and thus the eldest heir to her husband. Gradually, she eclipsed the other wives of Ögedei and obtained a growing influence over him and over the court. In 1229, two years after Genghis Khan's death, Ögedei was nominated by a Qurultay (a plenary assembly) to succeed on his death, and Töregene became Töregene Khatun. Her husband is known for his fondness for drink, and Töregene seems to have played a political role before his death. In particular, it orders the reprinting of the Taoist Canon, and influences the appointment of officials.

Regent of the Mongol Empire

When Ögedei died in 1241, the role of bringing together an assembly to designate his successor fell to Töregene, but she postponed the deadline. Assuming the regency, she dismisses or even arrests her husband's ministers and replaces them with her relatives; for her closest adviser, she names a woman, Fatima, a Tajik or Persian captive captured during a campaign of Genghis Khan.

Töregene Khatun proves to be a capable and strong-willed ruler. At first, it strives to maintain peace with China and the Song Dynasty, after the invasion of northern China by the Mongols. But his emissaries of peace are imprisoned, and Töregene orders the invasion of China in 1242. The Mongols capture Hangzhou and plunder the territory of the Song Dynasty, until a delegation is sent demanding a ceasefire which Töregene accepts.

The Estate

Managing to retain power in a society traditionally ruled by men only, Töregene Khatun works to promote the rise of his eldest son, Güyük. Before dying, Ögedei indeed designated his grandson Siremun, son of Kochu whom he had with another wife, as his successor. Despite his significant influence, Töregene failed to change his mind before his death. During her period of regency, she maneuvers to have her son chosen as successor by appointing relatives and favorites to key positions and by delaying the organization of the Qurultay to appoint a new Khan until she is sure that it is Güyük. .

In 1246, having sufficiently assured himself of the accession to power of his son, Töregene convened the assembly and Güyük became Güyük Khan. The succession made, the relationship between mother and son deteriorates and the new Khan strives to undermine the authority of his mother. The ruler's brother, Koden, accuses Fatima of sorcery; upon his death, Güyül orders his mother to deliver Fatima to him. When she refuses, her men arrest Töregene's favorite and adviser and torture her to death.

Töregene Khatun also died a year and a half later, in unexplained circumstances.